Sunday, May 31, 2009

5/31/2009 I Am Incredibly.....

I am incredibly THANKFUL. GRATEFUL. Yesterday I met someone who made me realize just how fortunate Bob and I are to be to be living our dream. How fortunate we are to be embarking on a journey not many make. Well, not many speaking in the grand scheme of things that is.

I was in the laundry room yesterday starting the first of several loads and I struck up a conversation with the two ladies in there with, "This sure is a nice FamCamp isn't it?" One lady who was of Asian persuasion just smiled and nodded. The other lady was ready to talk. I don't know where she is from but I found out that she calls this FamCamp home for right now. Her husband recently retired and they are in the process of figuring out what's next. They don't own a sticks and bricks house and are presently living in a tent. By choice and its quite an elaborate set up with TV, computer, a kitchen area, all the comforts of, well, home. He wants to buy a house or at least rent an apartment. She wants an RV and wants to see places and do things and wants to meet people. She wants this very badly and with good reason. I don't know how old she is and I'm terrible at trying to guess someone's age. She did say in passing that she has a child that is graduating this year so that would put her at the very least her late thirties. (Her kids live with their dad for stability) Assuming, because she was in the service, that she didn't start her family at 18 but probably her early to mid twenties, then it would safe to say she is in her early to mid forties. Of course she could have had said child at 15 and in that case she's in her mid thirties. See, I really am bad at guessing ages.

Anyway......I asked her if she had been to downtown Seattle yet to see the sights and it is here that I learned even more about her. She replied, "No, I don't do those kinds of things because I can't walk for long periods of time." I looked at her and couldn't see any tell tale signs of a disability or even a cane or anything like that so I just took it for what it is worth and went on that we had just been and how much we enjoyed it. I further explained that we were on our way to Alaska and that we were fulltimers. When I said "fulltimers" well, she just lit up. The questions started and she told me how much she wanted to do the same thing and she wanted an RV and to travel and she just went on and on. Not in a bad way, she was so excited about the prospect of traveling that her enthusiasm just bubbled over. I just marveled at her excitement about the whole thing. She said that she had just started researching all the options open to them but that she had some convincing of her husband to do.

In was in the next part of our conversation that why she is so eager to hit the road came to light. She's dying. She has three different lung diseases and heart failure. The doctor's had given her to next month to live but she assured me it wasn't going to happen then. She's not ready, she has things to do, places to go and people to meet. She's not going to sit around and wait for the day, she's going to LIVE life to the fullest while she's here. My whole being swelled with admiration for this woman. I wondered to myself if I could/would be so,,,,I guess the word is accepting of this fate. Would I, instead of planning my next adventure, wallow in self pity? Since she talked so openly about her lot in life I felt comfortable in saying to her, "I can't imagine what I would do if I got news like that". She said she cried, alot, at first, then got angry and then decided to make the best of the time she had left.

I hope she gets the RV, I hope she travels and sees the sights she so desperately wants to see. I hope her husband helps her realize her dream.

She made me realize how fortunate we are. In that short time in a laundry room she gave me a new outlook on my own life. I'm hoping that I now appreciate even more the opportunity, and the ability, that Bob and I have to be able to go to the places, do the things and meet the people.

I didn't even get her name, but she made a big impact and I'm glad we shared those minutes.

Friday, May 29, 2009

5/29/2009 A Long Day

Scroll down, the post for the 29th is up.
Wow, I just re-read what I posted last night, I must have been tired! I went back and corrected the spelling/grammar mistakes. Sorry about that!

We haven't been home long and its been a long, tiring day. I'll get the post up tomorrow.

I think before I can get the post up though the counter is going to turn again. You know what to do if you are the one turns the counter to the next thousand....leave a comment letting us know you are, how you found the blog and whatever else you want to say.

Lots and lots of pictures to upload, I'll start working on it tomorrow morning.

Until then.....I'm tired.


5/29/2009 Throwin' Fish in Seattle

We were up and out the door by 9:30 this morning. We didn't want to leave too early since we only have about 40 miles to go and we wanted no part of "going to work" traffic.

Once again we are in another state that decorates the cement walls along the major highways. We've noticed there is a lot less graffiti when the walls are decorative.


This is our very first view as we drive closer to the city.


Do you see the Space Needle? Its hard to believe that when the Space Needle was built in 1962 it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. It looks so tiny now.


Closer yet...


The first order of the business once we got close to the Space Needle was to find a place to park The Beast for the day. You know, its like we can't just park it anywhere with it being as big as it is. So we were lucky enough to find a parking lot nearby to where we wanted to be. I wasn't happy about spending $20.00 to park but we passed one lot that wanted $10.00 for each hour! We did have some concern about not fitting exactly in the outlined space but we paid the money and hoped we wouldn't be towed away for illegal parking.

I wish I could say this next picture is a unique one, but to tell the truth there were about 10 others taking the same picture when I was. I wonder how many hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of this same shot have been taken over the years.


The Seattle Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and today is recognized as a true symbol of the city of Seattle. Built to withstand 200 mph winds and an earthquake of up to 9.5 magnitude, the 605-foot-high Space Needle offers amazing views of the Seattle skyline and the area’s spectacular natural landmarks like the Puget Sound, Elliot Bay, the Olympic Mountains, and Mount Ranier from its observation deck.

When you walk into the base of the Space Needle you are either in souvenir heaven or souvenir hell, depending on how you look at it. I bought three postcards for a friend of mine who collects them. Of course I haven't sent the postcards I bought for her that I bought in Oregon yet so maybe I'll just keep collecting them and send a box all at one time. After looking at all of the outrageously priced T-shirts, sweatshirts, shot glasses and key chains embossed with the image of the Space Needle we decided it was time to get to the top.

On the way we passed the desk where reservations are made for lunch and dinner in the SkyCity Restaurant, the revolving restaurant located just under observation deck. The original name of the restaurant was The Eye of the Needle. In fact the original name of the Space Needle was The Space Cage. Bob and I discussed getting lunch and we noticed a menu displayed on the wall. We walked over to see what they had that appealed to us. Bob almost had to pick me up off the floor. Check out my standard, third from the top.


Twenty five freakin' bucks for a hamburger,,,oh wait, excuse me, CHEESE burger. Ok, so IF we both got burgers that's fifty bucks. I'd want a soda, probably another two fifty,,,,at least. Surely Bob would have a beer which would be a minimum of five bucks and it would probably be more. In fact, two beers, minimum ten now. By the time you add the tip in at 20%, our usual, you're looking at the very least $76.00 for LUNCH! I don't think so. I know, I know, its the idea of eating in the Space Needle, its the ambience, its the whole experience. No. No way. No how. My Queen of Cheap common sense just cannot even entertain that. We think it makes much more sense to put that money towards a plane ride over a glacier or something like that. I was not a bit surprised to find out that this restaurant was voted the best place to get engaged. It is also voted the best for its view and I bet it is very special to see all of Seattle lit up at night....just not for my money.

We paid for our military discounted tickets for the trip to the top and got in line for the elevators and watched this panel while waiting. It tells you where the elevators, located on the outside of the building are in their up and down journeys. Our car was the one all the way to left, on its way back down.


We got into our elevator car and though not our first time to be on the outside of a building in an elevator it still gives me a strange sensation. I just keep praying the cables hold.

The observation deck is at 520 feet and to say the view is breathtaking is, well, an understatement. No matter where you looked there was green. Trees, lawns, fields all in this emerald green. This city is alive!


At every turn there was something else to see, something completely different.


I was just in awe.


There's our truck, look in the center of the picture. Ours is the one that is NOT contained in its parking space. (Partially hid by tree)


The water was just beautiful with the snow capped mountains as the backdrop.


We walked around and around several times but you get to the point where you look at each and other say, "Have you seen enough?"

The Space Needle structure is fastened to its foundation with 72 bolts, each 30 feet in length. Here's a picture of just the nut. Well, the nut and my hand for comparison.


The Space Needle is part of the Seattle Center which also includes the Fun Forest Amusement Park, The Center House which holds cultural events and also houses the Children's Museum, the Experience Music Project, the Science Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame and last but not least, the attraction we visited, the Pacific Science Center. Oh, if we had only known. We went to the gate and paid our way in once again receiving a discount for Bob's service. (Just gotta love the bennies that servicemen are justly afforded) So in we go and we hear all this noise! Kids screaming, mom's yelling, babies crying, toddlers laughing,,,,oh no, its a KIDS science center! Not at all what we expected. We just looked at each other and thought, well, we're here, we already paid, we might as well make the best of it.

This ball actually weighs 1500 pounds though these kids have no problem spinning it, albeit slowly, in its cushion of water.


The object of making this display work is walking in the big wheel, much as a hamster does, and creating energy so that something in the pool out of camera range works. The problem? Look closely, there are several kids walking one way and it was moving pretty good then two more got on but they are walking in the opposite direction. The wheel is coming to a halt quickly. More yelling and crying is sure to start, time for us to move on.


Here the kids learn about the force of water I guess. We could only watch that for so long.


Inside was all kinds of hands on type exhibits for the kids. The usual thing you find in a children's learning center, answer the question, lift the covering and see if you got the right answer or not. Mirrors that give a distorted image and explain why. Reptile exhibits with,,,ewwwww,,,snakes and the such. Now I have to admit we did spend a few minutes checking this next exhibit out.


I think we were mesmerized just because these things are so damn ugly!

A tug of war over lettuce.


Where do these little horrid things live as a rule? We don't have these things in Delaware!



From there we just had to go to someplace pleasant. The Butterfly House.

Now I was really looking forward to this. I was going to take lots of pictures of beautiful butterflies. I was going to bask in the beauty of these creatures and enjoy the quiet time. Can you tell already it wasn't quite experience I had hoped for?

Let me start this by saying that children do NOT belong in children's museums, children's science centers, amusement parks and oh hell, if the truth be told, DISNEYWORLD!

I managed to get a few pictures, a VERY FEW pictures because I kept getting knocked into by people less than five feet tall.


And why were they were running? Because, heaven forbid, a defenseless butterfly invaded their space while they were in the BUTTERLFY HOUSE. A butterfly flew too close! Therefore they ran, screaming at their top of their lungs, to the other side of the aisle.


Bob was lucky, he didn't make into the Butterfly House as we had gotten separated because he was really into the creepy crawly insect exhibit.


There was one gorgeous royal blue with yellow markings butterfly (may he rest in peace) that made the mistake of landing on the shoulder of a child. A girl. About seven. She looked to her right and there it was. Her eyes got as big as saucers and then she let loose. The scream. Ear piercing. I thought the glass walls were going to shatter at any second. Not to fear, she had friends and they weren't afraid. Unfortunately they moved in unison. I watched the whole thing like it was in slow motion and there wasn't a thing I could do. Standing one in front and one in back of this terrified screaming child they both reached for the splayed wings at the same time. One was not faster than the other nor were they gentle. Too bad for the butterfly. The now wingless butterfly. When they realized what they had done they were horrified. Now there are three seven year old girls, one screaming and two crying. I gotta get of here. Children do not belong in children's science centers.


I left the butterfly house, many butterflies still to be photographed but not by me, not this day. I've had my fill with only four pictures taken.

We decided to take the Gray Lines bus tour. As usual I asked if there was a military discount and was pleasantly surprised to find out a twenty five discount would be ours. (Note to retired Military: You have to ask for these discounts, they are out there but you have to ask) We had to wait for about twenty minutes for the next bus so we sat on the wall and people watched.

Right on time the big, red bus with the open air top pulled up and we climbed aboard. Straight to the top, better to see the sights and to enjoy the beautiful weather we were having.

The tour guide also came up top since that's where all the passengers were. She explained buildings, roadways, historical sites and points of interest as we made our way to the waterfront.

Lawn Art. Or big red tubes, depending on how you look at it.


Oh, LaVon, I didn't forget you today! I found a really special tree for you. And LaVon,,,,it IS dead! In fact, it never lived. Ever. An stainless steel tree!


Down by the waterfront we saw one cruise ship that was in. On weekends in the summer, between 9 and 12 ships will dock.



A fire boat in the bay.


A ferry coming in from West Seattle, across the bay.


Seattle has some interesting buildings.


This one was built in 1901.


Pretty springtime flowers.


Is the latest summer fashion for men? My Bob wouldn't wear this, this man skirt, but we have a buddy in Nebraska it would look just dandy on! (Note to LW: I think they even come in John Deere green!)


We decided to get off the bus and catch a later one. We were at the water front and there was something we wanted to see more of.


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Pike Place Market was opened in 1907 when residents, who were outraged at the high prices of produce, pressured city officials to establish a public market. Thomas Revelle, a city councilman, started an open air Saturday morning market with just ten farmers and their wagons full of produce. With more than 10,000 shoppers arriving on the first day, the farmers sold out before noon and the Pike Place Market was born. The first market building opened at the end of 1907, with every stall rented out. Today Pike Place Market is home to nearly 200 businesses, 120 farmers and 190 craftspeople. This bay side farmers market attracts more than ten million visitors per year.

As we were walking towards it we noticed this fellow. His sign says he will give kissing lessons! But ladies, it will cost you $5.00 more if he takes his teeth out first! His sign further says there are NO FREEBIES, DON'T EVEN ASK!


Meet Rachel.


"Rachel" is quite a large piggy bank at the center of the Pike Place Market and right in front of the fish vendors. Rachel is a common meeting place for visitors to the market in that you'll people call out, "Meet me at Rachel in a half hour" or "I'll be waiting right here by the pig". All the money collected in Rachel goes to local charities.

The Fish Vendors. Ahhh, this is where today's title comes from. Pike Place Market is famous for its fresh off the boat seafood and the personalities of the quirky fishmongers working in the fish stalls. The Pike Place Fish Market in itself is a major tourist attraction. This is where visitors watch the fishmongers throw huge salmon and other fish over the counter to one another to prep it for sale. The tradition began when a fishmonger who was tired of walking back and forth from the fish table tossed a salmon over the counter to save time and energy. A large crowd gathers when this is ready to take place and you always know when it is because the guys behind the counter sing this little song which I could not get the words to no matter how hard I tried. In addition to the song when you see a hundred cameras posed, ready to take a picture you know its time for a fish throwin'. Next thing you know a very large fish goes flyin' through the air and cameras click like crazy and you hear, "Damn, I didn't get it". Trust me it very hard to catch a fish mid flight. The best I could do was the picture after it was caught.


This is what gets thrown.


If you want, you can even hold one up and pose with it for pictures.


The dungeness (sp?) crabs were all lined up pretty as you please.


This fish market will clean the crabs for you if you want, pack them for traveling for 24 hour or 48 hours periods and deliver them to your hotel and to the airport for you.

This market follows the same philosophy that Walmart does. If they don't have it, you don't need it.

This whole farmer's market is just amazing. The sights, the sounds and the smells. One running into the next and your senses in a frenzy trying to figure it all out.

This is a flower lover's paradise! Stall after stall, color after color, sweet scent after sweet scent.


Men and women making bouquets just as fast as their hands allowed them. Tying the colorful bunches together and wrapping them in a cone shaped paper. This particular bouquet sold for $10.00. There were three sizes. A slightly smaller than this $5.00 bunch and a slightly larger $15.00 bunch. All good buys for the money you were spending. There is no reason not to have fresh flowers on your table in Seattle! Evidently everyone thinks that way too because these things were selling fast. It was nothing to see someone carrying three or four bunches.


And the flowers were just so fresh!




There were several fish stores and I took notice of these very large lobster tails. I wish I had put my hand next to one so you could see how big they really are.


Fresh Veggies. Such an abundance of fresh vegetables. All lined up in perfect rows. You almost hated to take anything out of the perfect display.


Well no wonder the displays look so good! When I took this picture I didn't even pay attention to the sign because I thought the lizard was for real when I first saw it, I guess I thought it was just a price sign. Today I got to read it,


My mouth was watering at the sight of these berries and tomatoes.


Need a new switch plate? They got em' here!


Need a glass pumpkin? This is the place to come to!


For those who can't get a space inside the market proper, they set up shop outside.


Blown glass is a really big thing here in Seattle.



With all the treasures you can find here, that isn't to say there aren't some, well, let's just say some strange things. How about dressing in FUR pants on a day when its 85 degrees. WOW, forget the temp, how about FUR pants! I bet he bought them here in the market!


Need a child's teepee? No problem to get that here at the water front.


It was such a great day just to be outside.


There were lots of street performers. Some just played their instruments and sang.....


.....and some played their instruments, sang and worked a hula hoop.


And there yet more veggie stands. Bob asked me what do they do with all the stuff they don't sell? I would guess food banks.


I really liked these and wish now I had gotten one.



It was time for us to leave the water front and get back on the bus. We had more to see. Actually, we need a week here to see everything. We wanted to see the Underground. Did you know there is a Seattle Underground? Yep, there is, but we didn't have the time to take the tour. I wish we did. There's a lot we didn't get to see. You can't possibly think that you could see all a city the size of Seattle has to offer in a few measly hours. All the more reason to make a return trip some day.

So back on the bus we went, we saw some architectural marvels....


some city art....this is called The Reeds.


....a glass archway.


The last thing we wanted to see today was a ticket on our truck. But there it was when we returned. It said we got the ticket because we didn't pay for parking and put the parking slip on the dashboard. Did they mean like this? Idiots! Now I have this to get straightened out.


So we're heading home and we've got a 40 mile trip in front of us. In this. Bumper to bumper...a rolling parking lot. Forty miles - two hours, fifteen minutes. Ahhh, rush hour traffic. If I had to this every day I'd either move to the city or quit my job. One or the other, I couldn't do this.


We did have some scenery at times. This is Mount Ranier. (Look center pic)




Mount Ranier is literally just outside of the base here. You can see it up close and personal if you are over near the Commissary but the trees are in the way here in the FamCamp. We'll be taking you there on Monday.

One last look at the traffic we were in as we drive on the off ramp.


A very short trip through Seattle, we hope you had a good time!